PIRATE HANDBOOK

A bland introduction to the pirate life manages to suck all the fun out of the subject. Likely to please only overprotective parents, this field guide tucks such provisions as, “The crew is your family, and you must look after them and love them,” into the Pirate Oath. It also claims that pirates “only steal from people who’ve got more than they really need,” and insists that male and female pirates “respect each other equally.” Similarly, though the watercolor illustrations are replete with hooks, peglegs, eye patches and like standard gear, many of the pirates on display sport inoffensive personae like “The Smiley Pirate,” “The Hunky Pirate” and even a grandmotherly “Pirate Captain’s Mum.” The translator lets a lookout shout “Land Ahoy!”—which only children who have never read another pirate book will accept. Production standards are equally careless, as a word is misspelled in the Pirate Vocabulary list (the “Pirat” flag), and there’s a blank space on the treasure map where a coded message is supposed to be. Shelve in Davy Jones' locker. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: May 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-84-937814-8-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cuento de Luz

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2011

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This high-wattage debut is a little rough around the edges, but there’s nary a dull moment.

CAT DAD, KING OF THE GOBLINS

A pair of sisters and a froggy sidekick go up against a horde of fungal jungle dwellers in this frantically paced Canadian import.

When Mom transforms Dad into a cat, 10-year-old Luey, her leggy green friend, Phil, and little sister Miri chase him through a closet door and down a jungle path into a maze of tunnels. They manage to rescue their errant parent from the maroon-colored, cat-worshiping goblins that had overrun the garden. (They are not the “mythological” sort, explains Wilson, but sentient mushrooms dressed in towels.) The three put most of their pursuers to flight by rubbing Dad’s fur the wrong way to turn him into a raving, furry maniac (the rest flee at the closet door, screaming “IT’S THE MOM CREATURE! RETREAT!!”). Captured in multiple, sometimes overly small panels of garishly colored cartoon art, the action—not to mention the internal logic—is sometimes hard to follow. Still, dragging along their timorous but canny buddy, the dark-skinned, big-haired sisters dash into danger with commendable vim, and readers will cheer when they come out triumphant on the other side.

This high-wattage debut is a little rough around the edges, but there’s nary a dull moment. (afterword) (Graphic fantasy. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-927668-11-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Koyama Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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A visually polished print debut—with a teaser on the front flap for the app version in place of a blurb. Unsurprisingly,...

THE OTHERWORLDLY ADVENTURES OF TYLER WASHBURN

THE NEW KID

Hypercool paintings featuring alien school kids and elaborately detailed planetscapes juice up this weakly plotted tale of a young tinkerer transported to a galactic academy.

Tyler is mostly given to the sort of smarmy inventions that let him spy into his sister’s bedroom or splatter his dad with paint. Despite this, Tyler is promoted to an extremely multicultural orbiting school where he has a (sometimes literal) blast learning to use a jet pack and taking field trips to exotic planets. Cole, a digital artist with a hefty film résumé, plants an unrepentant smirk on his bright-eyed protagonist, surrounds him with heavily made-up but basically humanoid schoolmates, and places him in a series of atmospheric, dazzlingly finished high-tech or extraplanetary settings. Tyler’s overly expository first-person narration makes liberal use of exclamation points, an irritant that some readers may find mitigated by the cool sci-fi language. Readers of Mark Fearing’s Earthling! (2012), Aaron Reynolds and Andy Rash’s Superhero School (2009) and Dave Roman’s Astronaut Academy (2011) may feel a sense of déjà vu, but there’s more than enough eye candy to compensate.

A visually polished print debut—with a teaser on the front flap for the app version in place of a blurb. Unsurprisingly, also in development as a film. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-9334-9277-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Design Studio Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 31, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2012

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